Monday, June 4, 2012

Walkergate: No Honor Among Thieves

As most of Wisconsin was aware, Tim Russell was in court today in what was supposed to be the final pretrial hearing regarding his charges of embezzlement from a veterans fund, which in turn, proved to be a cynical stunt to help Scott Walker to score political points by pretending he stood with veterans, when in truth, he was planning to attack them as well when he was governor.

I was hoping for a last bombshell to fall just before the recall election on Tuesday, but was expecting nothing.  We got both.

The nothing was that due to the publicity caused by the role Walkergate is playing in the recall (and rightfully so, since the voters should know just what kind of man weasel Walker really is), the Honorable David Hansher chose to postpone the trial until the fall.

However, there was a small, but very well placed, bombshell as well.  After going into chambers for an hour, they came out and went on the record.  That is when Hansher stated publicly that Russell, through his attorney, released the legal documents that showed that Walker was stonewalling the investigation he allegedly asked for.

It shouldn't be of all that surprising that Russell would do this.  He was most likely holding out hope that Walker would come to his aid, either in the form of funding and/or a pardon.  However, just the day before Russell released said documents to Dan Bice, Walker publicly stated that he would not use his legal defense fund, to which he's pumped a third of a million dollars already, on any of the defendants other than himself and his campaign, nor would he grant any of them pardons.

In other words, Walker was saying now that they delayed their trials long enough to avoid any big indictments before the recall election, he was throwing them under the bus.  I don't blame Russell one bit for deciding that he was going to stand with himself, instead of standing trial with Walker.  In fact, I thought he should have done it long ago.  But then again, I have never deluded myself to thinking Walker was trustworthy or reliable.

Truly, there is no honor among thieves.

The article about the trial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is about the best I could find on the subject, also showed something of interest in that a couple of months ago, there were talks of "settlement," which I would presume mean that there was some discussion of plea bargaining.   Hmm, maybe Russell was taking my advice after all.

Lastly, there is one last thing about today's events that I would like to address.  Now that things are really reaching the perfect media storm, with the recall tomorrow and Walker's indictment becoming a question of when, not if, there's been a lot of people coming in and trying to do reports without knowing the fully story.  In order to sensationalize what is already a sensational story, they get their facts wrong sometimes.  Please don't get confused by them.

Case in point would be the article by Charles P. Pierce, which appeared on Esquire's political blog.  It's a wonderful piece of prose and gives a great description of the course of events.  Unfortunately, Mr. Pierce got a couple of facts wrong, one large and one small.

The small one is where he said that Walker has a $100,000 in his legal defense fund.  We know that Walker's already gone through three times that amount.  But that's small potatoes.

The larger mistake, and the more serious one is where Pierce writes this:

It is no exaggeration to say that, without Tim Russell, Scott Walker would just be another Marquette drop-out working nights in Wauwatosa. Russell was a strange mixture of Gordon Liddy and H.R. Haldeman to Walker's Nixon. Russell used to brag to the state's Democrats about stealing yard signs and knocking down banners. (Walker always has had a sweet tooth for this kind of thing; he got disciplined by the university for dirty tricks when he was running for student government at Marquette.) It was Russell who used to poke political opponents in the chest and yell at them, "Where will you be in two years?" That's an interesting question right now for Tim Russell, because it is entirely possible that he'll be sharing a cell block with Lon Robinson.
Really now.  Pierce tries to portray Russell as the mastermind behind Walker's climb in politics.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

As Reader Jane Doe pointed out in a guest spot, Russell is a peculiar type of loyal henchman.  If one was going to describe him, it be more apt to call him a cross between Frankenstein's Igor and M*A*S*H's Radar O'Reilly.  He was a competent handler of day to day things in the campaign and a useful gofer, but he was hardly a mastermind behind Walker's corrupt illegal politicking.  Russell fed off of the attention and praise he received for doing middle management work and used that to self-inflate himself into thinking he was a powerhouse in the state's Republican Party.  The truth was he was more of a eager and useful stooge.

Which is all the more reason for Russell to really start thinking about taking care of his own hide for once.  In just the crimes he's facing now, he could go bankrupt on the legal fees alone, much less when he is found guilty.  And as it appears he is finally realizing, Walker and the Republicans are more than willing to discard him like a tool that's no longer useful.  He should come to the realization that like everyone else, Walker was merely using him.  Thus, he owes Walker nothing in return.

Time will tell whether he will do the right thing for himself or if he will allow Walker's betrayal to go without consequence.  If he chooses the latter, I hope he doesn't mind having years of eating bologna sandwiches.

In the meantime, Walker must be wondering who will be the next one to turn on him.  I do have to give him credit though.  It can't be easy running for an office he knows he won't be keeping, one way or the other.


  1. Great post, as per usual. Very illuminating on many fronts.

  2. Yes, thank you, Capper. I am glad Russell woke up. So sordid, all this, but you know how a lot of people disliked the former President Bush? Well, at least he was known for loyalty to his own people.
    Dear God, please let people vote properly tomorrow. People can't be so stupid as to listen to all those ads, can they?

  3. Since we're talking about getting facts wrong...
    A few days ago you posted that there is a regulation that prevents federal prosecutors from charging an elected official within 60 days of an election. That is not exactly true. It's a common practice, and it's a wise demonstration of prosecutorial discretion, but it's not an actual "rule."

    1. You might want to reread that post. I did not call it a law or rule.

      As for it being wise, I would say it also is a failure, since it prevents voters from knowing exactly what kind of person we are looking at.

    2. In fact, the word I used was code. Now who has their facts wrong again?

  4. Another informative post.

    FYI the link "Reader Jane Doe" is a 404 error.

    I have heard that kielbasa is sometimes on the menu in correctional facilities.

  5. I believe Tim could have been blackmailing Walker (for any number of things) and that the vets' money may have been transferred from the American Legion to Tim as payoff. That might explain why Tim used the money so blatantly. But Tim is no genius when it comes to money-handling, if the closed cases in Milwaukee County Court are to be believed.

  6. Thing is, you know and I know that even once Walker is indicted, he's not going to resign as a matter of honor as he has none. No, this will drag on and on, to the end of his first term, and he'll run for re-election. Point is, he'll have to be impeached, and I don't see that happening without a conviction. Yet another reason why the recall provisions in the Constitution should not be modified.

  7. The one thing that became very obvious in the recall is that Walker will lie to everyone about everything. That's why when the Feds finally get to the bottom of Walkergate, Wisconsin will have the Bernie Madoff syndrome. The guy they thought was their hero turned out to be screwing them over BIG time. WI is going to look like a bunch of FOOLS for re-electing this guy despite all the warnings.